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  1. #1
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Your Thoughts on the Santana Arriva

    Rowan and I are heading to the beach next weekend to enjoy the beach on what should be a warm summer weekend ... to cycle in a different area for a change ... and to have a look at, and quite possibly test ride a Santana Arriva.

    http://santanatandem.com/Bikes/Arriva.html

    What are your thoughts on the Santana Arriva as a randonneuring and possibly also light touring tandem?

  2. #2
    Senior Member IbisTouche's Avatar
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    We bought two Ibis Touche tandems from 1994 used in 2009 for 545 US$. Last year we rode our first two 200 km brevets. We were thinking alot about the Arriva which is looking a lot like the Touches. We ended up looking more after the comotion speedster which is more sporty but still very perfect for brevets and light touring.
    Find your tandem after your purposes and which frame fits you both.
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  3. #3
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    Another happy Comotion Speedster user here. We use it for what you describe - we've done a few 200 - 300 km one-day rides on it, plus a couple of one-week tours. It's performed well at all of these tasks.

    If you're getting the S&S couplers installed then Comotion has one major advantage over Santana in that the front split is in front of the captain's seat tube on the Comotion. This makes it really easy and fast to pop the front end off (it takes about 2 minutes) when needing to put the bike into a tight space (e.g., when using the vertical hooks in European trains).

  4. #4
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    What are your thoughts on the Santana Arriva as a randonneuring and possibly also light touring tandem?
    The Arriva is a great, all-around / all-purpose steel-framed tandem with very nice road manners at a reasonable price point given the specs and quality of workmanship Santana is known for.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I've ridden a Arriva but it was a long time ago. I wasn't overly impressed with it but you know how I use my bikes so I'd be more inclined to take TG's appraisal of it. Having said that, if I were you, I'd see if you can get a test ride on a Sovereign instead. That's the bike I've done the majority of my brevets (up to 600kms) on a tandem with. In my opinion it is a much better bike and you can do the same things with it. It is a few more $ but IMHO it'd be worth it.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  6. #6
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    Tandems tend to be built for general use more than single bikes. The Arriva would work well for long rides and light touring. I would guess that the Arriva would take a 700 x 28 tire but if you want a larger size tire check for frame clearance. A rack and panniers can't be used on a carbon fork. If you want front panniers then look for a steel fork. The Arriva has a steel frame and the Sovereign has an aluminum frame. I have owned a Soverign. My preference is a steel frame although I have not ridden an Arriva.

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    We are rather limited in our available tandem selection here in this part of Australia. It's all well and good to recommend several other brands ... but we may not be able to see them, test them, or get them for anything remotely resembling a decent price.

  8. #8
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Test ride some other tandems if you can.
    Santana's tend to be a bit over-priced/heavy for what they are.
    However, if that's all that's available new/used in Aussie-land, then go for it, if it fits.
    Co-Motion would be lighter and a bit quicker handling.
    Have put several thousand miles on Santanas but have never personally wanted to own one.
    Did put 57,000 miles on a Co-Motion, among others.
    Just our experience/opinion.
    However if that's all that's available and a good buy

  9. #9
    Tandem Vincitur Ritterview's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    We are rather limited in our available tandem selection here in this part of Australia. It's all well and good to recommend several other brands ... but we may not be able to see them, test them, or get them for anything remotely resembling a decent price.
    Cannondale tandems are available in Australia.

  10. #10
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    I might chime in here.

    Thanks for your responses. I am glad Mark responded... I've read his posts here and on the bikelist.org tandem forum for years, and I value his opinion on anything tandem.

    Thanks also Homey, but as Machka pointed out, there isn't much in the way of choice when it comes to quality tandems "off the shelf" here in Australia. And while the exchange rate with the US dollar favours us at the moment, I am not inclined to go through the ordering process from any factory or retailer in America -- the freight and then import duties and taxes would kill the deal, I'm afraid.

    Thanks Ritterview for the link, but we just aren't aluminium bike people. Right now, we are steel, titanium and carbon people (at least I am on the carbon). This was more or less (more actually) confirmed by our experiences with the borrowed KHS Milano. There are some fit issues with it, for sure, but I found the ride to be too harsh for my liking. Much may be traced to the heavy-duty front fork that is beefed up to accept discs. We simply could not survive on it above 300km.

    And thanks to everyone else for the opinions they offered. They really are appreciated.

    The Arriva is nearly a base level bike from Santana. That I know. For our purposes -- which will probably lean more towards touring at this stage -- it should serve us well. The issue with the front fork (see later) is not such as issue as we have a trailer that can be called into service if need be. We also have a friend who will do S&S coupling conversions right here in Australia if we so desire.

    I am not sure about the carbon fork, and we may well have to swap it out for a steel one to appease Machka's fear of them. The steel versions are available as an option, as I understand, from Santana. I am interested, though, to see if they have the steel ones with the 1-1/4 inch headset race, or whether that becomes a deal-breaker. I also am interested to see if they accept wider than 28C tyres.

    Anyway, we will keep everyone in touch with what happens. The bike is actually older new stock (2009), and the price is around $1000 less than it originally was. But until we see it in the flesh and are able to test ride it, we can't make any more informed comment than that.

    The KHS has served its purpose well, and I am grateful to fellow randonneur Peter Moore at Abbottsford Cycles in Melbourne for being so, so generous in letting us use it, and pile on well over 2000km. We will, of course, be returning it with all new cogs, chains and rings (Peter has let us get away without changing the tyres).

    The one monumental success we have had with it is that it showed Machka and I can ride contentedly together over quite long distances. And it has dragged us both back into a higher level of cycling than we were experiencing for our quite individual, different and profound reasons.

    Cheers!
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    The Arriva is a great, all-around / all-purpose steel-framed tandem with very nice road manners at a reasonable price point given the specs and quality of workmanship Santana is known for.
    +1 on TG. Not as stiff as the Sovereign but very capable. Ideal for long rides if you don't want to sprint too much and aren't too heavy. One nice feature is the number of braze ons, you should be able to get 4 waterbottles, low loaders, fenders, pump and rear rack attached - handy for touring.

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    Unless things have changed, the steel fork is also 1 1/4", sturdy and with the low loader attachments. Definitely more road buzz than the CF fork. Both forks and rear stays have tons of room for fatter tires, you should be able to get well into the 30's

  13. #13
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    I did a lot of agonizing research trying to decide which used tandem to buy. We finally went for a CoMo Speedster because we liked what people we respected said about the handling. I'm a bit of a sport rider and wanted something that would feel good when ridden hard. It does. One of the things that caused me to pick our particular bike was that it has a carbon Wound-Up fork. It's an extremely strong fork, handles well, and definitely takes the buzz out of chipseal. I do work with carbon and epoxy in my business. Materials research says that there is no bike material, other than possibly bamboo, which is more fatigue resistant. I have about 50,000 miles on my carbon Trek, other than the paint, still in perfect condition. You could swap the carbon for steel for touring.

    We prefer Conti 4000 25c at 120 lbs. for long rides.

  14. #14
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    30,000+ miles on our True Temper Alpha Q X-2 for on our all carbon Zona tandem.
    BTW have broken a steel fork on one of our tandems and seen a broken steel fork on a Santana.
    Everything/anything can eventually fail . . .
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  15. #15
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    The Santana is a fine bike. The "not quite as stiff", I think was intended as criticism, but in the case of randonneuring, I would suggest it might be taken as praise.

    Only caution - and you may have heard this before - is that it can be tricky sourcing parts to change anything. With the wide rear axle there are (apparently) non-Santana racks that can be stretched to fit; but it's easier to mount a Santana rack. With the 1 1/4" headset, you might be able to find a non-Santana stem to adjust the fit, or you might not.

    Getting it for $1000 below original list is always nice. I was going to ask whether that was $AU or $US. What a difference a decade makes!

  16. #16
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    10 Pretty Good years on an Arriva

    A few years ago, we traded our Arriva for a Comotion Machiatto. We are completely in love with the new bike for it's responsive handling, ultra-light weight and great looks. I'd probably go with a a different CoMotion for touring, giving up some lightness for toughness and load carrying.
    The Arriva was more stable in a straight line, and correspondingly less responsive to steering inputs. It was also heavy (noticeable on climbs and acceleration) and had a chronic sifting problem (Ultegra front derailleur was impossible to set up and it often couldn't get the granny).
    It was a great 2nd bike for us, but we never missed it after we got the CoMotion.

  17. #17
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    In preface to my comments: I owned an Arriva for a short time, and rode it maybe five times before I sold it because it was the wrong size (got a great deal on it used and couldn't pass it up). I do own a Santana Cabrio 700c triplet and a Santana Fusion 26" "enduro" road tandem. Both are steel frames and have S&S couplers. The Cabrio is, I believe, very similar to the steel Santana tandems in frame design (just has an extra section for the third person in the middle). I also briefly owned a Co-Motion Speedster, and own two Co-Motion single bikes. I sold the Speedster because I bought the Cabrio and didn't have the space or $$ for two 700c road tandems.

    Anyway...

    Comparing the Santanas and the Speedster, the Santanas have what I would call a more neutral, compliant ride and handling characteristics. The Speedster was a very nice frame and felt a bit more "lively" than the comparable Arriva; more like a single bike. For people doing day rides or supported tours, and who are experienced riders, the Speedster probably is the ticket. You can also tour on it, but I think the Santana geometry is better for loaded touring (having done five or so loaded, week-long+ tours on our Santanas).

    I can tell you first-hand that you can fit a 700x35 tire in a Santana OEM carbon fork (that's what we run on our triplet), and maybe a slight bit bigger. The steel fork also easily supports that size. You can pretty easily get an extra steel fork used and swap it out for the carbon when you want to tour or mount front racks (that's what we do... very easy with a cartridge bearing headset like a Chris King; just install an extra crown race). In fact (shameless plug coming), I have two Santana OEM 1-1/4" steel forks that I'm looking to sell, so if you go that route drop me a note. The 1-1/4" stem thing is a bit of a pain, but it's never really been an issue for us. We swapped out the stems on both our Santanas for shorter ones, and easily got them from a Santana dealer. They have a pretty good selection of sizes, but the cost is a bit higher than other stems because they are a sole source, I guess. Also, as I've previously posted in other threads, it is possible to spread most rear racks to fit the 160mm spacing. I'm personally not a huge fan of the 160mm spacing, but it hasn't caused us any undue hardships over the course of owning multiple Santanas since 1994.

    I LOVE S&S couplers. If you can afford them, get them! Also, I'd highly recommend getting them from the factory if at all possible (regardless of what manufacturer you go with), as they are integrated into the frame much better and just are a cleaner fit (although retrofits usually look quite good, too). Cost will probably be the same, if not a bit cheaper, than a retrofit.
    Last edited by briwasson; 01-31-11 at 09:32 AM.

  18. #18
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    We have ridden a Santana Fusion (Enduro version of the Arriva) for 10 years. Very durable and comfortable. Not quite as fast as the skinny tire tandems, but we can go where others fear to tread

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    I think Tandem Geek said it best. I've got a 10 year old Arriva and have no complaints.

    I bought a Santana-sized rear rack when I bought the bike, so no issue. There are those who make a big deal about Santana's proprietary components, but since there are so many Santanas out there, the parts are easy to get either at a good tandem shop or directly from Santana. My experience with calling Santana on the phone has been quite good.

    I'll agree to a certain extent regarding buggy front shifting. It takes some very careful tweaking to get it to work smoothly. After someone tried to squash me with their large 4 wheeler, I ended up changing my shifters from the original 105's to Campy Veloce with a Shiftmate. The front shifting improved dramatically and the rear is very precise.

    We're a nearly 400lb. team and the handling is always stable. If we would lose 50 lbs climbing would be a lot easier than if we bought an aluminum bike that weighs two pounds less. Fast descents (we've been up to about 50mph) have always been smooth and stable.

    The brakes (V Brakes without any other assists) have always been more than adequate. However, if you ride in the mountains, keep an eye on your pads. My bike has a drum mount on the chaninstay. I haven't done any alpine riding, so I can't comment on the braking on long descents, but I may be doing a tour in VT this summer, crossing the Green Mountains several times, so we'll see how they work. I'll be sure to bring extra pads just in case.

    I haven't put anything wider than 700x28 tires on it, but it looks like there is plenty of space for something wider, both in front and rear.

    I've got the original chromo fork. It would be interesting to see what a carbon fork would feel like, but I'm happy with it so I leave it alone.

    It's comfortable, reliable, and stable. But do know that it's a Honda Accord, not a Porsche.

  20. #20
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    Thanks ProfBob.

    We aren't after a Porsche. Heck, we drive around in a Mitsubishi Delica 4WD, which is dubbed "The White Jellylbean". We bought it for its practicality in transporting bikes, and in getting home to the place where we lived when it was wet... it does/did those jobs well, but it won't win any speed contests.

    Soooo... good manners downhill are important.


    Ability to carry some touring weight is, too.

    Wider tyres are good (the KHS has 32C, and I use them for touring on singles); we can change to thin tyres and rims if we want to go fast.

    I am not overly concerned with spare parts. I suspect the Australian agent can help out, or we can source in the US and do a "swifty" with freight through a firm operating in Oregon.

    Brakes may be problematic, but the KHS also has V-brakes (with Tiagra levers) and it stops well and handles downhills OK (it's just struck me that the V-brakes and Tiagra levers should be such a good match, but they seem to be).

    Shifting performance... well, I am reasonably patient, so we shall see. The KHS currently has some rear-cogset shifting issues, so this situation isn't foreign to me.

    Anyway, the day of inspection and test riding draws nigh.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I know you and Machka are thinking of a tour this summer. If on your tour/trip this summer if you happen to decide to go to Vancouver and then tour your way down the west coast of California on Hwy 1 to San Luis Obispo I'd be more than happy to let you have a long test ride my Calfee. It's got reall good down hill manners. I won't do that for just anyone you know...

    As far as getting a new tandem I don't think you can go wrong with the Santana. I have issues with them but not related to their bikes. They do build a very good quality bike. Regarding brakes, I have Ultegra brakes on my bike and they work great. They of course will limit tire size. One thing you might keep in mind is the use of Mavic OP ceramic wheels they work exceptionally well on my bike and it eliminates heat build up in the rim. The only downside I can see for you is that they might limit tire size as well. I would suggest that one argument for a higher end frame is that you get a significantly better ride and you can get away with smaller tires and have the same comfort level. You can always go with a drum brake too.
    Shifting is independent of the frame you get. Tandems just need a little more TLC to keep them shifting right because of the length of the shifter cables. Let us know how the test ride goes!
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  22. #22
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    For what it's worth, another happy Santana owner here

    I have the Arriva's older sibling, called a Visa. 14 years at about a thousand miles a year, so far. It was a bargain, sourced during an attic clear out at a well known UK bike shop (St John St), as just an unused but 'shop soiled' frame, might have been lying there unknown for ages.

    SJS built it up with Deore LX, in-line timing and drive, cantilevers and bar end shifters, and that's how we have it still. New wheels, though, which are great - lighter and stronger. Use 28 Bontrager hard cases and Kool-stop salmon - now it rolls and stops better than ever.

    We all want new bikes, it's just a fact of living - but this one delights us (320 lbs team) every time we use it. Rolls really smoothly, stable enough for hands-off back stretches, vertical compliance gives a feeling of springiness. Not light, not accelerative, not a mountain goat, but stable enough to either both stand and honk a short rolling climb or to twiddle up a long steep one at 3 or 4 mph without feeling jittery.

    We like it. We use it in the spirit of "let's take the train this morning" - comfortable, stable, steady

    Enjoy your research. I hope you get a good one, whatever you choose

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    I know you and Machka are thinking of a tour this summer. If on your tour/trip this summer if you happen to decide to go to Vancouver and then tour your way down the west coast of California on Hwy 1 to San Luis Obispo I'd be more than happy to let you have a long test ride my Calfee. It's got reall good down hill manners. I won't do that for just anyone you know...

    As far as getting a new tandem I don't think you can go wrong with the Santana. I have issues with them but not related to their bikes. They do build a very good quality bike. Regarding brakes, I have Ultegra brakes on my bike and they work great. They of course will limit tire size. One thing you might keep in mind is the use of Mavic OP ceramic wheels they work exceptionally well on my bike and it eliminates heat build up in the rim. The only downside I can see for you is that they might limit tire size as well. I would suggest that one argument for a higher end frame is that you get a significantly better ride and you can get away with smaller tires and have the same comfort level. You can always go with a drum brake too.
    Shifting is independent of the frame you get. Tandems just need a little more TLC to keep them shifting right because of the length of the shifter cables. Let us know how the test ride goes!
    That's a mighty generous offer from you, Homey. Thanks... we shall see how things pan out as August draws closer.

    Well, we did the deal. Steve Hendry (Hendry Cycles at Ocean Grove, Victoria, Australia) did a fitting for us both on an Arriva, and then we went for a test ride. I became evidently very quickly that the ride was so much smoother than on the KHS.

    Long story short... we bought. It's now sitting in the holiday park cabin with us as Machka's Ti and my CF bikes. It's raining on and off (another story in itself) right now, so a maiden ride will have to wait a little while.

    There are things we will undoubtedly alter slightly, and we have to add a rear rack, another pair of bottle cages, mudguards, computer and so on. It won't take long to adapt to our needs.

    It's equipped with Ultegra shifters (and I am now a fan of Ultegra... the KHS has Tiagra, which is good, but to me, Ultegra shifters have a higher level of crispness). It's Ultegra front derailleur, and XT rear der, and 34-11 reaer cogset (LX, I think). Machka has allowed us to go with the carbon cranksets (30-39-53) and my drop bars are carbon, too.

    Steve changed out the Bontrager tyres that were original fit, and we are running Schwalbe Duranos, which are lighter, but we still have to test out their feel. He has done quite a lot of tandem riding, and keenly recommends the Schwalbes over the Bontragers for feel and ease of rolling. I've grown to like the Schwalbe Marathon XRs on my touring bike, so the recommendation is understandable.

    Rims are Mavic A719s -- I've wanted Mavic wheels for a long time, so here they are.

    Brakes are Vs with travel agents, which are not foreign to me... braking seems good on the brief downhill we had on the test ride.

    The seats are Terry, and will be changed out ASAP to Brooks; mine (a Fly) will probably go on another bike project, and Machka will likely shelve hers (a Butterfly) forever. The stoker seatpost is suspended, a Tamer, but we will likely save our pennies and go with a Thudbuster in due course -- Machka wasn't keen on the Tamer's mechanism.

    The colour is an interesting irridescent blue and we both like that there is a small amount of writing on the frame.

    We will probably get a CroMo fork in due course for extended touring, but we will remain initially with the CF fork

    I suppose there will always be issues with any bike unless it is custom built. The proprietory nature of a lot of the stuff means replacements might not be quite so easy in the future -- the front BB, the seatposts (a Thudbuster, for example, will need shimming), the headset and even stem. But then, we aren't intently anticipating damaging any of that stuff, and we will probably cope with ordering in what we need.

    The thing that really impressed me was the weight. It feels as though it is on a par with the aluminium KHS, but we won't know exactly until we strip off the bits from the KHS, and add some bits to the Arriva so they are the same spec. Certainly, Columbus steel tubing left an impression on me because of its light weight and durability and capactiy with Machka's stolen Marinoni Ciclo, and the Santana just reinforces that impression.

    Thanks again everyone for your wisdom and thoughts. I suppose, in reality, I was looking for affirmation, which I got, and things have turned out well so far.
    Last edited by Rowan; 02-05-11 at 01:01 AM.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Colnago C-50, Calfee Dragonfly Tandem, Specialized Allez Pro, Peugeot Competition Light
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    Awesome! I'm sure you both have many very happy miles on your new bike!



    btw, My offer still stands if you make it this way in August.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  25. #25
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    I ride where the thylacine roamed!
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    Our new tandem!


    (Click photo for more bicycle photos)

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